From Pictures to Words: A Book about Making a Book
Age Level: Upper Elementary
Best Use: Shared between adult and child
I’ve seen and heard a lot from parents lately about working with their children on their writing, so I thought I would review this book about writing.
Writing can be one of the most intimidating activities for children. On the other hand, some children find it a pleasure. In her book, From Pictures to Words: A Book about Making a Book, author Janet Stevens provides support for moving kids from the former group to the latter and offers motivation for your child to create his or her own literary masterpiece.
Through a dialogue with, and captivating illustrations of, the characters in her imagination, Stevens introduces children to the process of creating a book by working through that process herself. She explores selecting a setting, works through developing a plot, and describes the integration of illustrations to enhance the story. Her work lays bare the mystery of the writing process elucidating how writers come up with ideas, choose the best ones and refine them until they are just right to deliver an exciting experience for the reader.
After reading, children (and adults) have a better understanding of the parts of a book and how a book develops from an idea to the finished product on the shelf. And, the book can be used as a springboard for children’s writing. Here are some ideas for extending the experience:
Write stories on Blank Books (or a book on a favorite topic)
Good Biographies of Writers
If you are interested in some other great biographies of authors, there is a longer list here at the bottom of the activity.
Now, off to work on my own book!
*For our Tampa area friends, this book is available at Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative.
What Marco Polo Saw: An Adventure on the Silk Road
By Sandra Markle
Age Level: Upper Elementary
Best Use: Shared Reading (Adult and Child), though accomplished readers can read it alone
Despite the way the title sounds, The Animals Marco Polo Saw is more than a catalog of camels, elephants and other unusual beings. In fact, many different aspects of Marco Polo’s journeys to the East are detailed and beautifully illustrated in this book that introduces the reader to the history and exotic features of this long ago highway of trade.
The colorful prints lend support to the text and describe such events as Marco Polo’s boyhood and family mercantile business, the initiation of the journey to the East, run ins with bandits, a bout of disease in the bitter colds of Tajikistan, crossing the mountains, meeting and working for Kublai Khan, and, finally after 17 years, heading home.
At each point in the journey, an inset offers pictures and information of an animal integral to the experiences there and provides interesting facts such as the differences between Dromedary and Bactrian camels.
The book is actually part of a series on the explorers (individuals whose explorations “had a major impact on people’s view of the world”). Each book describes the adventures of an explorer with the same underlying structure of featuring animals the explorer witnessed along the way. Other explorers in the series include Robert Scott, Christopher Columbus, and Charles Darwin.
Not only is this book fun to read, but it is useful to instigate further activities:
We hope you find the book as valuable as we did. Either way, comment on this blog to let us know.
*Tampa residents, this book and some of the others in the series are available through Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative.